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France's "biggest opportunity" in wine is online, say experts

Published:  21 October, 2014

France is in "pole position" in the online wine market - which represents the country's biggest opportunity going forward.

France is in "pole position" in the online wine market - which represents the country's biggest opportunity going forward.

That's according to Tim Wilson, managing director of the Wilson Drinks Report, speaking to delegates at Harpers' France Summit today. He said wine accounts for £500 to £800 million worth of sales for UK specialist online retailers. Given total off-trade wine is around £5 billion, total online wine sales would account for 10-15% of the off-trade. 

EPOS data collated from 11 leading specialist wine retailers, including Tesco Wine by the Case and Majestic, showed French wine's dominant position, with value sales up 13.4% and volumes up 11% between July and December 2013, Wilson said.

Wilson also singled out Amazon as the "tiger in the grass", which now lists 22,000 wines, of which 3,000 are French, in the UK. "I expect a lot more achievement from Amazon - online is one of the biggest opportunities for France going forward," Wilson said.

Using IWSR data from 2003 to 2013, Wilson painted a gloomier picture for French wine in traditional markets, with volumes down 39% across the on and off-trade, compared to 53% growth from Italy and 70% growth from France.

Off-trade data, compiled by the IRI MAT to September 13, 2014, showed French value down 1.4% to £605 million. But France's average rrp was £5.99 versus the category average of £5.23. Off-trade French wine volumes fell by 7.2% in the same period.

Jon Rebuck, marketing director at Wines Direct, which compares UK wine deals online, conducted a poll on French wine's popularity online. Out of 1,000 respondents, over 60% of whom were male and 50% aged 50+, 86% said they consumed French wine at least once a month. Almost two thirds said they purchase wine regularly - at least once every three months, with over 50% spending £5 to £8 on a bottle, 25% spending £10 to £15 and 14% over £15.

Sopexa's Anne Burchett gave an overview of world markets and described the UK market as a "leading light" for France. She said this year's bumper Champagne harvest, and healthy harvest in most other French regions "should help France to remain successful in export markets around the world".